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Decatur, Texas
Historic downtown Decatur, Texas
Historic downtown Decatur, Texas
Location of Decatur, Texas
Location of Decatur, Texas
Wise County Decatur.svg
Country United States
State Texas
County Wise
 • Total 8.5 sq mi (22 km2)
 • Land 8.5 sq mi (22 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0 km2)
1,102 ft (336 m)
 • Total 6,042
 • Density 711/sq mi (274.5/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 940
FIPS code 48-19528
GNIS feature ID 1373362

Decatur is a city located in Wise County, Texas, United States. It is the county seat.

Decatur is part of the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex and is located 25 miles northwest of Fort Worth and 45 miles northwest of Dallas.

The population was 6,042 at the 2010 census.


Wise County was established in 1856, and Taylorsville (in honor of Zachary Taylor) was made the county seat.

Absalom Bishop, an early settler and member of the Texas Legislature, opposed naming the town after a Whig Party member, and in 1858 arranged to have the name changed to Decatur, in honor of naval hero Stephen Decatur.

In 1857, a post office was opened, and the first school was established in 1857. In the early 1860s, a courthouse was erected.

Civil War

Early settlers to northern Texas came from a variety of eastern states, and only about half came from the "deep south". As a result, some sympathized with the Unionist side during the Civil War, and violent acts against them were common. One such act occurred in October 1862, when several Unionist sympathizers were arrested and taken to nearby Gainesville for trial on charges of treason and insurrection. Seven of those arrested were hanged, and 14 more were hanged without trial. A few weeks later, more suspected Unionist supporters were hanged without trial in several north Texas communities, including 5 hanged in Decatur. The "Great Hanging at Gainesville" may have been the largest single incident of vigilante violence in U.S. history.

Post-Civil War

By the late 1860s, several stores and a hotel had been established. In 1882, the Fort Worth and Denver Railway reached the town, and Decatur was added to the Butterfield Overland mail route.

In 1881, the Wise County Old Settlers Reunion held their first meeting. This has become an annual tradition in Decatur, and the reunion continues to take place during the last full week of July.

Decatur Baptist College (now Dallas Baptist University) was established in Decatur in 1898 and was the first two-year institution of higher education in Texas. In 1965, the college moved to Dallas. The former Administration Building now houses the Wise County Heritage Museum, and is one of five sites in Decatur listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Wise County courthouse was designed by James Riely Gordon, the master architect of Texas courthouses. Completed in 1896, the building is an example of Gordon's Signature Plan, using corner entrances (making for short halls) to draw in the breeze, which was pulled up thru a central atrium like a chimney, providing excellent circulation. The exterior is Texas red granite (like the state Capitol) with terra cotta ornamentation. The almost pyramidal mass harks back to 1,000-year-old churches in the south of France. The building has been praised, with its "sister" courthouse in Waxahachie, as "the zenith of Gordon's Richardsonian Romanesque work". It is listed on the National Register.

In 1962, Eddie Wayne Hill, lead guitarist for Tommy & the Tom Toms, and drummer Joel Colbert, were killed when their convertible collided head-on with a gravel truck on state highway 114 south of Decatur. Country singer Charley Pride was more fortunate, surviving a mid-air crash with another plane over Decatur in 1980, though two people died in the crash.


Decatur is located at 33°13′40″N 97°35′24″W / 33.22778°N 97.59000°W / 33.22778; -97.59000 (33.227633, -97.589871). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.5 square miles (22 km2), all land. The highest point of elevation in the county is at the location in Decatur which houses the courthouse. The intent of placing the town on this high point of elevation was to be able to sight and ward off any incoming attacks or raids by Native Americans.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 579
1890 1,746 201.6%
1900 1,562 −10.5%
1910 1,651 5.7%
1920 2,205 33.6%
1930 2,037 −7.6%
1940 2,578 26.6%
1950 2,922 13.3%
1960 3,563 21.9%
1970 3,240 −9.1%
1980 4,104 26.7%
1990 4,252 3.6%
2000 5,201 22.3%
2010 6,042 16.2%
Est. 2015 6,521 7.9%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of July 1, 2008, U.S. Census Bureau, the city had estimated population of 6,432.

As of the census of 2000, there were 5,201 people residing in the city. The population density was 747.6 people per square mile (288.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 81.64% White, 1.98% African American, 0.58% Native American, 0.73% Asian, 12.44% from other races, and 2.63% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 22.53% of the population.

There are 1,845 households out of which 37.6% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.1% are married couples living together, 11.7% have a female householder with no husband present, and 28.5% are non-families. 24.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 12.1% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.67 and the average family size is 3.19.

In the city, the population is spread out with 17.2% under the age of 18, 20.5% from 18 to 24, 38.1% from 25 to 44, 8.7% from 45 to 64, and 15.5% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 97.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 86.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,449, and the median income for a family was $40,580. Males had a median income of $30,512 versus $21,213 for females.

Parks and recreation

In popular culture

  • "Eighter from Decatur" is a slang phrase used by craps shooters who want to roll an eight as well as the title of a song (minus the "e" in eighter) by Western Swing legend Bob Wills. In 1949, Decatur mayor Sly Hardwick added the phrase to two signs welcoming tourists to the town.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen climate classification system, Decatur has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.

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